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Special free-sprung 12s Waltham

Jerry Treiman

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I think this one qualifies as rare.

View attachment 671455
Since only two of us have "like"d this post so far I imagine folks have not looked too closely at 'just another 12-size Waltham'.
First, note the serial number - 12,000,000. Even millions (x,000,000) with Waltham are usually pretty special and unique. Attached is a larger photo of this movement from the 2002 Time Symposium.
12000000m.jpg

So, where is the regulator? It has none ... it is free sprung. Look at the plate screws which are uniquely cross cut. Look a little deeper at the escape wheel ... is it backwards? Nope - this unique Waltham has Cole's resilient escapement. Pretty darn special watch!
 

Clint Geller

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Since only two of us have "like"d this post so far I imagine folks have not looked too closely at 'just another 12-size Waltham'.
First, note the serial number - 12,000,000. Even millions (x,000,000) with Waltham are usually pretty special and unique. Attached is a larger photo of this movement from the 2002 Time Symposium.
View attachment 672249

So, where is the regulator? It has none ... it is free sprung. Look at the plate screws which are uniquely cross cut. Look a little deeper at the escape wheel ... is it backwards? Nope - this unique Waltham has Cole's resilient escapement. Pretty darn special watch!
This movement is written up in my 2005 NAWCC Book on E. Howard & Co. watches as a "side note" to Howard's Coles escapement story. The lore that has been passed down along with the movement of this watch is that it was part of a watch that was presented to President Theodore Roosevelt, the original "Rough Rider," in his inaugural year, the idea being that a rugged outdoorsman who was supposedly accustomed to bounding about on horseback would need a watch with a resilient escapement. This alleged provenance first appeared in print in 1968 in a piece by Irving Cooperman, entitled "Pocket Time Pieces of NY Chapter Members," published by the NY NAWCC Chapter. The special serial number of this watch might seem to lend credence to a presidential presentation. But of course, the watch case that might have documented this exceptional provenance, if true, is now gone, or at least separated from its movement, and it seems suspiciously odd to me that anyone would have scrapped a case that would have had such an important inscription in it.
 
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Maximus Man

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This movement is written up in my 2005 NAWCC Book on E. Howard & Co. watches as a "side note" to Howard's Coles escapement story. The lore that has been passed down along with the movement of this watch is that it was part of a watch that was presented to President Theodore Roosevelt, the original "Rough Rider," in his inaugural year, the idea being that a rugged outdoorsman who was supposedly accustomed to bounding about on horseback would need a watch with a resilient escapement. This alleged provenance first appeared in print in 1968 in a piece by Irving Cooperman, entitled "Pocket Time Pieces of NY Chapter Members," published by the NY NAWCC Chapter. The special serial number of this watch might seem to lend credence to a presidential presentation. But of course, the watch case that might have documented this exceptional provenance, if true, is now gone, or at least separated from its movement, and it seems suspiciously odd to me that anyone would have scrapped a case that would have had such an important inscription in it.
Maybe I should have pointed out the features of 12,000,000 when I posted it last week, but it was getting late.
The watch is currently being serviced by my watch maker and he will be taking many photos of the movement while it is disassembled.
I am looking into several possible reasons why the original case may have been replaced if in fact it was originally made for TR.
 
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Jerry Treiman

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The lore that has been passed down along with the movement of this watch is that it was part of a watch that was presented to President Theodore Roosevelt, the original "Rough Rider," in his inaugural year, ...
That is one story I have heard. Another story, from Henry Fried in 1969* (he owned the movement at that time, was that it was made to commemorate Waltham's 50th year. I am not convinced by either story.

Waltham records indicated the watch was finished and delivered in early 1903. Depending on what you choose as the company's origin it may have been 1850 (Dennnison partnership with Howard), 1854 (1st factory in Waltham) or 1857 (Dennison & Howard split to establish separate companies), none of which support a 50th anniversary in 1903, or even 1902 when work on the movement commenced. As for the Teddy Roosevelt inauguration, Roosevelt was first inaugurated in 1901 following the death of McKinley. His second inauguration was in 1905.

*Jewelers' Circular-Keystone, January 1969, p.143
 

Maximus Man

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It would be helpful if I knew any information concerning the watch in the factory records. ROY'S book indicates it as a 21 jewel 1894 Maximus. Why the difference?
 

Clint Geller

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That is one story I have heard. Another story, from Henry Fried in 1969* (he owned the movement at that time, was that it was made to commemorate Waltham's 50th year. I am not convinced by either story.

Waltham records indicated the watch was finished and delivered in early 1903. Depending on what you choose as the company's origin it may have been 1850 (Dennnison partnership with Howard), 1854 (1st factory in Waltham) or 1857 (Dennison & Howard split to establish separate companies), none of which support a 50th anniversary in 1903, or even 1902 when work on the movement commenced. As for the Teddy Roosevelt inauguration, Roosevelt was first inaugurated in 1901 following the death of McKinley. His second inauguration was in 1905.

*Jewelers' Circular-Keystone, January 1969, p.143
It is interesting that two completely different provenance stories for this watch should appear in print within a year of one another. At least one of them was provided by the then owner of the watch, and the title of the publication in which Cooperman's story appeared suggests that both stories were provided by successive contemporaneous owners of the movement. We all know how difficult it is to be objective about one's own watches. I would surmise that the watch likely changed hands shortly after Cooperman's story appeared in 1968, and shortly before Fried's story appeared in 1969. By the time the late Larry Greenwald acquired the movement shortly after Henry Fried's death, the movement was already in a case that supports neither provanance story. By that time the movement itself was in need of significant repair and according to the current owner, it apparently still is. This could well be the reason why the movement was separated from its original case, if indeed it was. If the original case did in fact carry evidence of an illustrious provenance, then perhaps that case still exists somewhere with a different movement in it.

Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that a watch with movement SN 12,000,000 in it was indeed presented to President Theodore Roosevelt, perhaps not at his inauguration, but on some other suitable occasion. At a time when the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution was being honored, a gift to the President of the United States from a commercial enterprise like the AWWCo would have been considered a gift to the Office of the President, not a personal gift to the man occupying that office. As such, a hypothetical presentation watch like the one we are contemplating would have remained with the president's office after Roosevelt departed it. It would then seem possible that some aide working in the president's office, who would likely have cared about the inscription on the case, but perhaps not at all about the special characteristics of the original damaged movement within that case, had a watchmaker swap a new Model 1894 movement into the case in order to have a watch in working order. If so, that watch, with its original inscribed case and a new movement, may still exist somewhere, perhaps in some dusty storeroom associated with the White House. If so, perhaps an inquiry to the Office of the President could turn it up. If none of us have enough influence to get someone to look into this, perhaps Carlene Stephens at the Smithsonian could be persuaded to help. She is always quite cordial whenever I communicate with her.
 
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Dr. Jon

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I suspect the watch was made to order for a very influential customer. It seems to me that left to their own Waltham would have made #12,000,000 in a 16 size. It was "one of" in the serial number records.
 

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At a time when the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution was being honored, a gift to the President of the United States from a commercial enterprise like the AWWCo would have been considered a gift to the Office of the President, not a personal gift to the man occupying that office. As such, a hypothetical presentation watch like the one we are contemplating would have remained with the president's office after Roosevelt departed it.
The Roosevelt's did not live in poverty and their family friends were mostly pretty wealthy. I do not think the emoluments clause would have applied to a Christmas or birthday present from a friend, regardless of what was engraved on the case.

I also think that Waltham was getting pretty serious about smaller watches at the time. It would not surprise me if they chose to make a special statement for some exhibit where they would highlight this special watch. The problem is, how do we find the story? This watch must have appeared in the news of the day.

Maybe one of our expert searchers of the NY Times archive would be able to find something?
 

Jerry Treiman

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ROY'S book indicates it as a 21 jewel 1894 Maximus. Why the difference?
Roy's book, with respect to this serial number range, is just a reprint of "Serial Numbers With Descriptions of Waltham Watch Movements", published by the Waltham Watch Company in 1954. The 1954 publication is often simply referred to as "the gray book" due to the color of the original covers. (There was also an earlier printing around 1945 or 1946 that is not as complete). The gray book was primarily to add watchmakers in identifying movements to simplify ordering parts, and for this purpose "Maximus" was sufficient to identify the finish quality of replacement parts.

It seems to me that left to their own Waltham would have made #12,000,000 in a 16 size.
I also think that Waltham was getting pretty serious about smaller watches at the time.
As Tom says, Waltham was giving due respect to smaller watches. No.14,000,000 is another singular 12-size bridge model, 15,000,000 is a Colonial Series (12x14 size) Maximus and 16,000,000 is a 14-size "special" Maximus. 18,000,000 is skipped in the gray book and was probably also a singular product. (17,000,000 was the first Premier Maximus).
 

Jerry Treiman

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Maybe one of our expert searchers of the NY Times archive would be able to find something?
The Waltham newspapers may have had an item, too, if Waltham was honoring the President of the U.S. in some fashion.
 

Clint Geller

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The Roosevelt's did not live in poverty and their family friends were mostly pretty wealthy. I do not think the emoluments clause would have applied to a Christmas or birthday present from a friend, regardless of what was engraved on the case.

I also think that Waltham was getting pretty serious about smaller watches at the time. It would not surprise me if they chose to make a special statement for some exhibit where they would highlight this special watch. The problem is, how do we find the story? This watch must have appeared in the news of the day.

Maybe one of our expert searchers of the NY Times archive would be able to find something?
Tom, I must disagree with you [no longer. See Post #14 below.] If the watch were merely a gift from an individual or a personal friend of the president, the Emoluments Clause would not have applied. But if it had come from the AWWCo or any other commercial enterprise and the presentation inscribed on the watch had explicitly stated as such, then the Emoluments Clause most definitely would have applied. Furthermore, assuming the watch was actually presented to TR, which is a very big assumption, the fact that it has a Cole's escapement suggests that AWWCo management would have been directly involved in organizing the gift. Who else would have been able to order the creation of a Cole's escapement movement, or would have thought to make one? That being the case, it stands to reason that the Emoluments Clause, not to mention general standards of propriety, would have directed the gift towards the president's office, rather than to the man himself. And what better way to promote smaller watches for men than by associating one with a famous rugged outdoorsman like TR? Of course, some actual evidence to back up a presidential provenance would be nice. Otherwise, the story is just creative conjecture. One would think the AWWCo would have advertised such a gift.
 
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Ethan Lipsig

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Clint, I wasn't aware that the emoluments clause prohibited U.S. officials from accepting gifts from U.S. companies.

Article I, Section 9, Clause 8:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
 
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Clint Geller

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Clint, I wasn't aware that the emoluments clause prohibited U.S. officials from accepting gifts from U.S. companies.

Article I, Section 9, Clause 8:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
Ethan and Tom, I stand corrected. There is both a foreign and a domestic Emoluments Clause, but neither of them apply here. It seems federal law only prohibits gifts to presidents from other then foreign dignitaries when there is a clear quid pro quo involved. Other public employees are generally much more restricted, although senators can still receive speaking fees, but apparently not the President.
 
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John Cote

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I have been away from connection to the internet for a few days and have just seen this thread. Much as I hate the word rare as applied to watches in most cases it is certainly appropriate here. Having read about this watch before in some of the noted references, I hold out some hope that with much increased access information today someone may separate the fact from fiction regarding this very interesting watch.
 

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